Meet this week’s awesome studentpreneur: Patrick Henry, 27 y.o., postgraduate Law student at the University of Copenhagen and co-founder at Sensohive in Denmark.
Patrick wasn’t born knowing exactly his passion and what he wanted to do in like! Like a lot of us he discovered his passion after High School. At Uni, he was elected to run the student association with much competition and was thrown in the deep end but he got experience to run an organisation. From that experience, he tried to start different businesses before he got onto something with Sensohive. He picked robot engineers students as co-founders and bootstrapped with a lot of failures on the way. His biggest learning was to accept that you will fail again and again but that you have to learn from the failures methodically. Patrick is always looking for constructive criticism, even though I didn’t like to be criticised. That’s how he picks his mentors.
Finally, Patrick shares the incredible experience he had in being involved with 50 studentpreneurs from around the world at the University Startup Worldcup competition.
– ‘Sometimes I do manage and sometimes I don’t. There is no way around it, you have to make compromises. Remember that grades are not everything.
Books Podcast, and Blog:
– Alex Ferguson: My Autobiography by Alex Ferguson
– Richard Branson’s blog on virgin .com
U2U (Uni to support you):
– Expand entrepreneurial project from developing ideas to supporting the actual running of a business.
– ‘Check how big the entrance barrier is’
– ‘After High School I didn’t know my passion but sometimes that’s what leads to the best thing’
– ‘I owned nothing of the businesses I worked for, I wanted to own something, that’s why I started Sensohive’
– ‘We all do things that are outside our education [in our business]’
– ‘I chose the mentor who gave me the most constructive feedback and a pitching competition’
– ‘Get to pitch as many times a possible’
– ‘The biggest failure come from people who are not motivated all the way through’
– ‘If you can’t sell it, you can’t beep doing what you love.’
– ‘Read outside your comfort zone.’
– ‘I practice pitching everywhere, even in front of my class’
– LinkedIn: Patrick Henry
Intro: Get ready to be inspired with studentpreneur, stories of students who are entrepreneurs. How do student entrepreneurs get started? How did they change their mind set? How do they manage to balance their business with their studies? Get the real story with your host Julien Marchand.
[00:00:26.24] JULIEN: Hi, I’m Julien. Entrepreneur turned PHD student. Thank you so much for your messages of support and for your likes on the Studentpreneur podcast Facebook page. I can really feel that the studentpreneur community is growing and as a result I do more and more interviews, so I can pick which one to release according to what fits the request. In this episode Patrick answers the question asked very often, what do you do when you don’t know what your passion is. Is that you? Well, check what Patrick has to say and let me know what you think or what you want next on the Studentpreneur Facebook page.
Alright, so today we’ve got Patrick with us. Patrick is 27 and is just about to submit his Master’s thesis in Law at the University of Copenhagen. He’s also started SensoHive and just starting to get some revenue in the five figure. Is that right Patrick? Do you want to tell us a bit more about yourself and your business?
[00:01:28.17] PATRICK: Yes, thank you very much Julien. Well, like you said, I study full time, trying desperately to finish my Law degree now, and do as well as absolutely possible while running SensoHive with my three compatriots. We have three people working full time through the funding we’ve got and we are currently just finishing up development on our product and getting ready to launch it full scale into the markets.
[00:02:06.26] Oh, excellent. And so what is the business exactly? Do you want to tell us what it is?
[00:02:11.28] PATRICK: Yeah. We have taken a basic traditional thing called a temperature and humidity sensor. I think most people run into those in their daily life in way or another and SensoHive has developed a wireless communication module which means that production companies and production services can now access critical data that was previously inaccessible because they wouldn’t be able to measure it with the old bulky temperature and humidity systems. In practical terms they could be for industrial greenhouses. We do concrete hardening. Just as examples where temperature and humidity is quite important in determining how your product is doing, being plants growing or concrete hardening.
[00:03:14.10] JULIEN: Okay, so concrete hardening. How are people doing it at the moment without your solution?
[00:03:21.27] PATRICK: Well, specifically for concrete, that’s quite an interesting prospect because the way it’s done now, there are several methods. The ones that are non invasive are usually not very, not very accurate. Everything from putting a piece of plastic out and seeing if condensation is created underneath the plastic, or —
[00:03:45.16] JULIEN: Oh, that’s scientific.
[00:03:47.20] PATRICK: Yeah I know, right? [laughter] To larger companies going in, having a specialist drill a hole and then putting a sort of a cork like thing down into it and being able to take measurements with a little machine they have to measure it then, but as you can hear when you drill down that’s very destructive.
[00:04:11.28] JULIEN: Yes.
[00:04:12.19] PATRICK: We only get a certain point and it only shows you the situation in this moment.
[00:04:19.25] JULIEN: While you’re doing it, while you’re capturing the data. So, your product is already inside the concrete?
[00:04:26.16] PATRICK: Simply, yeah. We have perfected a membrane that ensures that the electronics that we put into the concrete and hardens inside the concrete can survive the very alkaline environment and it’s then led out on a cable to our communicates module which wirelessly transfers all the data live.
[00:04:50.13] JULIEN: And it will stay the entire level of the building?
[00:04:53.16] PATRICK: It will stay there. There’s no way of getting it out of the concrete. [laughter] But obviously the expense of it is the communication module. In this sense it’s a very cheap and effective method for the construction company to get live data on several points of the entire lifetime of the building.
[00:05:11.05] JULIEN: And of course the benefits is that the construction company can start the next phase of the job and they know exactly when and they know it’s the right quality.
[00:05:20.17] PATRICK: Exactly, and that’s the level of control and insight they haven’t had before. So, we are getting a lot of interest from some of the large construction companies as well as the Danish Technological Institute who we are collaborating with at the moment on this.
[00:05:37.06] JULIEN: Yeah, of course. So, did the little Patrick play with sensors in primary school? [laughter] How did you get started?
[00:05:45.04] PATRICK: No, far from it. I think I spent most of my time in front of a computer [laughter] usually reading stuff online, you know? Like, general curiosity mainly, but no, until very late part of my life, even after high school I had no idea what I was going to do and I wasn’t sure what my passions were even.
[00:06:13.01] JULIEN: Yeah. You woke up… This club is really big, of the people not knowing what their passions is. [laughter]
[00:06:18.14] PATRICK: Yeah. I mean, and you know, that being the case, I think everyone just needs to take a deep breath and realize that sometimes that’s what leads to the best things.
[00:06:31.10] JULIEN: Oh okay. Good, because there’s a lot of listeners who are like, oh man I still don’t know what my passion is and I’m still in high school. Wait, it’s okay. [laughter]
[00:06:38.27] PATRICK: Yeah —
[00:06:39.13] JULIEN: Some good will come from it.
[00:06:41.11] PATRICK: Yeah, yeah absolutely. The more naturally it comes, the less you have to try and force yourself into a certain thing and realizing that if you just put the right amount of effort into trying to master the thing you finally found out you want to do, it will all be fine.
[00:06:57.24] JULIEN: Nice. So, how did that work out for you?
[00:07:01.03] PATRICK: Well, think quite well. Back in the day when I just started my Bachelor’s at the University of Southern Denmark, I was just a lowly student. I knew no one. I was in a new city.
[00:07:18.07] JULIEN: Oh, okay. So you moved to a new city to go to uni, yep that makes sense.
[00:07:21.02] PATRICK: Absolutely yeah. I was living in a basement and it was very humid and you know, there was hardly any money for food.
[00:07:29.20] JULIEN: That sounds lovely.
[00:07:31.12] PATRICK: It was absolutely fantastic. [laughter] It was something I think back on with fond memories. You know, it’s —
[00:07:39.18] JULIEN: Did you get to see the sun from the basement?
[00:07:42.13] PATRICK: Sometimes. I mean, there were plants in front of the little slits [laughter] at the top of the, yeah. I’m sure you can picture that, right?
[00:07:49.00] JULIEN: Yep.
[00:07:50.13] PATRICK: No, I… One day I was talking to a guy and he was heavily into university politics and student life. There was large student organisation there and I was asked to run for political office at the university level.
[00:08:07.24] JULIEN: Okay. You knew no one, but… [laughter]
[00:08:11.16] PATRICK: I was asked to run for the election. There was no one else there to run more or less. So, it was not something that many people found particularly important at our university. So, I decided to run and I got a lot of votes and I won, even though there wasn’t much competition and based on doing a good job there, I was asked to take up a leadership position in the student organisation as well —
[00:08:43.09] JULIEN: Ahh.
[00:08:43.27] PATRICK: Which was a professional position even.
[00:08:46.28] JULIEN: Do you mean getting paid?
[00:08:48.22] PATRICK: I got paid as a student.
[00:08:49.26] JULIEN: Oooh.
[00:08:50.04] PATRICK: It was amazing. [laughter] For doing professional leadership work with zero experience. So, that was a —
[00:08:59.23] JULIEN: No you had experience. You ran for an election.
[00:09:02.22] PATRICK: I ran for an election but that job started about three months after I’d gotten in and actually won the election and it started that work. So, to say I was green is probably an understatement. You know, having to learn everything from the bottom and suddenly having all this experience was pretty big for me, but that’s principally how it all started. Thrown into the deep end of something that I didn’t know existed until I actually started university and getting some experience in running an organisation and having responsibility for other people doing their work in an organisation and people expecting you to do things.
[00:09:50.22] JULIEN: Wow. That’s pretty good.
[00:09:52.26] PATRICK: Yeah, very lucky but also it was a lot of responsibility and a very hard time because from day one of doing studies it was also a lot of work [laughter] on the side. For sure.
[00:10:05.12] JULIEN: So, what happened next?
[00:10:08.08] PATRICK: Well, one of the guys sitting on the board of directors of the student organisation was an avid startuper. He had tried several businesses and failed and he had a few which he was doing really well at, and so we decided when my contract ran out at my job that we were going to try and look into different things. We set up a holding company and tried different things and failed miserably several times.
[00:10:42.29] JULIEN: But hang on, hang on, you were a law student. Why did you want to start something?
[00:10:49.05] PATRICK: You know, I’m not really sure what it was that tripped [tricked?]
[00:10:53.05] me, but I think having spent so much time building up an organisation, put so much time and effort into it. For me it was a matter of wanting to not just start it from the beginning but also have more ownership of it.
[00:11:12.24] JULIEN: Mmm. Yeah, yeah yeah.
[00:11:14.27] PATRICK: Rather than just being employed. I had several jobs, everything from now, working in a burger bar to leadership, right?
[00:11:25.09] JULIEN: Yep. [laughter]
[00:11:26.16] PATRICK: And I’d owned nothing of it.
[00:11:28.02] JULIEN: Mmm.
[00:11:28.05] PATRICK: Yet put so much time and effort in and fought every single day to do my absolute best. So, why not do it for myself for once?
[00:11:36.10] JULIEN: That makes sense. So, what type of project did you start and fail?
[00:11:41.19] PATRICK: Oh, I think the first thing we looked at was actually somewhat maybe unrealistic in our innocent youth. We were looking into setting up solar power plants among other places, in Australia.
[00:11:55.29] JULIEN: We have a lot of sun.
[00:11:58.12] PATRICK: You have a lot of sun. [laughter] But also a lot of great challenges in terms of keeping the nice panels cool.
[00:12:04.12] JULIEN: Yep. [laughter]
[00:12:06.06] PATRICK: You know, there are many things to this but I think we just sort of realised after a while that while great dreams are big, you also have to look into first of all, what is more red ocean than other things and how big is the entry barrier to some of these things. You know, most investors, when you pitch them a 100 million dollar investment and the only thing you have is yourself and an idea, it usually doesn’t go well.
[00:12:35.03] JULIEN: Oh, and a Powerpoint.
[00:12:37.12] PATRICK: And a Powerpoint. [laughter] We didn’t even have that. [laughter] So, you know, that was obviously a learning curve that we moved onto something more simple, which was jewellery import.
[00:12:50.16] JULIEN: Okay. Yeah.
[00:12:51.17] PATRICK: Again, not something very unique and the entry barrier was low but it was also very low for everyone else.
[00:12:59.21] JULIEN: Too low, okay. Yep.
[00:13:01.28] PATRICK: So, again it wasn’t something that we were going to build a scalable business on, so that failed and then what happened in our current business was I was just shooting out ideas as I had been for a long time and one day my good, my good partner who’s also my business partner today in the new business said, I think you’re onto something with this wireless measurement. I’ve been working on this idea, why don’t you show up for a meeting and see if you want to be part of this.
[00:13:43.12] JULIEN: Okay.
[00:13:44.12] PATRICK: And that’s how it all started. You know, shooting one idea and having a very brilliant man look at me and say, you know I think this is it. This is it.
[00:13:55.17] JULIEN: Excellent.
[00:13:55.17] PATRICK: This is what we need to run for.
[00:13:57.12] JULIEN: And the goal was to basically build something to own. It wasn’t really like money or it wasn’t like wireless sensors is your passion. It was owning something that you built, right?
[00:14:11.24] PATRICK: Yeah. You can say that. I think, personally for me, I think it’s too simple to say that you’re doing it for one thing or another. I think there are always many different things and you just prioritise them a little bit differently. For me personally, I think I will have a hard time working for someone else and working for their business because I always want some skin in the game to be able to keep myself motivated and running at 100 percent every single day, but I would be lying if it wasn’t also for the fact that I want financial freedom.
[00:14:51.13] JULIEN: Yeah, of course.
[00:14:53.24] PATRICK: Be able to scale something and get the experiences that come along with running your own successful startup.
[00:15:01.15] JULIEN: Mmm. And so, you started SensoHive but how did you go about it? Like, did you go for competitions? Did you try to raise some fundings? Or did you do bootstrapping? What did you do?
[00:15:19.18] PATRICK: Yeah, so the entire initial process was sort of very, was very artificial so to speak because we started up setting up a team without knowing it was there, called in 18 different people.
[00:15:33.24] JULIEN: Woah.
[00:15:35.11] PATRICK: And looked at what sort of competencies do you bring to the table. Do you have an interest? What experience do you have? And so the team for this company was actually hand selected rather than just a couple of guys who met up.
[00:15:53.04] JULIEN: Yeah, that’s a bit different.
[00:15:54.27] PATRICK: It is a bit different, but you know, I don’t think there’s a right or a wrong way to go about it.
[00:16:00.09] JULIEN: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
[00:16:02.02] PATRICK: And it’s shown to be extremely successful method for us in our business. So, having selected, including myself, the four founders, we principally started with putting out a lot of post it notes on a big wall. Mapping out everything we wanted to do, from technology to the business setup and simply going through it all from a to z.
[00:16:34.25] JULIEN: You said four founders. So, there was your ex board of director and then who came on board? Were they technical people?
[00:16:44.15] PATRICK: They were technical people.
[00:16:45.26] JULIEN: Oh, okay.
[00:16:47.08] PATRICK: There were three engineers and then myself as the only non engineer.
[00:16:50.25] JULIEN: Oh, okay. It makes more sense now. Yep.
[00:16:52.27] PATRICK: Yep, yep. So, a robot engineer and two what we call PDI’s, so they’re more soft engineers, they know everything from production to market setup and so on.
[00:17:06.19] JULIEN: Cool, and where they students as well or they’re already graduated?
[00:17:10.26] PATRICK: Yeah, all students. Students all the way through.
[00:17:14.05] JULIEN: All students. Cool. Robot engineer, that sounds pretty cool.
[00:17:21.11] PATRICK: It is pretty cool. [laughter] It is pretty cool. No, no, these guys, they amaze me every single day and I think that’s another great point in terms of who you end up building your business with because even though they were students and they were engineers specifically, we all do things that is not necessarily within the scope of our education, so I think when you look for a business partner, more often it’s more important to look at their personality because are they a type a personality who wants to win and wants to do a good job and wants to perform all the time? The greatest danger I’ve experienced with people I’ve worked with is someone who’s not motivated to go all the way, all the time and that is definitely needed in a company, especially like ours where we were bootstrapping it for so long until we managed to crack the code on how to get soft funding for our project.
[00:18:28.29] JULIEN: So, how did you crack the code?
[00:18:33.13] PATRICK: A lot of failure. [laughter]
[00:18:36.10] JULIEN: Thank you. Say it again, a lot of failure. [laughter]
[00:18:39.00] PATRICK: A lot of failure. A lot of failure. It happens all the time. The only way to succeed is to be able to accept that you are going to fail time and time again but learn from them mistakes every single time in a very methodical way. I always say that the people I love the most are the ones that constructively criticises me every single day.
[00:19:06.25] JULIEN: Okay, so that will be your co founder.
[00:19:09.19] PATRICK: That will be my co founder but we have mentors and other externals attached to our project.
[00:19:17.07] JULIEN: Mmm.
[00:19:18.18] PATRICK: And usually what the one thing that is the same for all these people, is that they are very good at coming with constructive criticism and just saying it straight up the way it is.
[00:19:32.23] JULIEN: Wow. And, where do you think you got that skill of accepting constructive criticism? Like, did that come from previous job or was it though your education?
[00:19:48.10] PATRICK: I think it sort of developed through my stubbornness of wanting to succeed and realising that being thick headed and proud wasn’t going to get me there.
[00:19:59.25] JULIEN: Ooh, okay.
[00:20:02.04] PATRICK: Because it doesn’t come naturally to me, personally. I don’t like being criticised at all and when it comes to myself, I have a very small sense of humour.
[00:20:13.17] JULIEN: Okay.
[00:20:15.04] PATRICK: But at the same time, you know, the wish to succeed is just a lot more, it’s not much more profound in me and therefore it’s something I’ve had to learn from the ground up.
[00:20:30.16] JULIEN: Yep, you have to learn that. You have to accept criticism in order to build on your failure.
[00:20:35.19] PATRICK: Absolutely. Absolutely. I’ve had amazing co founders in that regard, you know we are, you know as well as business partners, we’ve also become very good friends and knowing each other and knowing how each others react and knowing that the main objective is to be able to take criticism to enable ourselves to improve has helped a lot.
[00:21:02.29] JULIEN: Yep, that’s good. What other skills do you think you brought from your previous experience? Like, going through all the failures or your job as a leader of the student association.
[00:21:17.10] PATRICK: I personally think very much from an eagle eyed perspective. I have a tendency to keep an overview and when I go into a task I do it with a lot of attention to detail. That’s not always the most efficient way to go about this but in terms of our founding group, we have all the personality types in our business. So, in that way we complement each other well because there’s so much interaction between us all the time and it makes sure that we get different views on every single task we do, so the fact that I just have a more overall perspective on business development and strategy and I go into a task and would rather go through it four or five times until I’m sure it’s absolutely ready.
[00:22:12.19] JULIEN: Okay. Yep.
[00:22:13.16] PATRICK: Compared to the other is my main contribution to this.
[00:22:18.13] JULIEN: Yep. Makes sense. Alright, so let’s go onto one of the toughest question which is, how do you manage your studies? So, that’s your Law degree and your business.
[00:22:32.23] PATRICK: I don’t think there’s a straightforward answer to that because the matter of fact is sometimes I do manage and sometimes I just don’t. [laughter] And I mean that in the sense that I do well in school. I get good grades and I pass all my exams but —
[00:22:58.26] JULIEN: That’s good.
[00:23:00.16] PATRICK: But it’s done on the basis though that sometimes I haven’t opened the textbooks for a couple of weeks and I’ve no idea what’s going on in class.
[00:23:11.08] JULIEN: Yeah, that makes sense because sometimes you work much more on the business, yeah.
[00:23:14.20] PATRICK: Exactly, and there’s no way around it and I think most people who start their own business will come to realise that sometimes you have to make compromises and that it’s also a great risk to your future if something goes wrong. If you’re not able to manage and juggle these two things, it is a risk. I think that’s inherent to starting your own business, so managing the best way possible is the most important thing.
[00:23:46.14] JULIEN: So, does it mean that you don’t always go to the lecture for instance? Does it mean that, have you failed some topics for instance?
[00:23:53.29] PATRICK: It has been that there’s been some classes that I haven’t been able to go to. It has also meant that I’ve had to redo one exam.
[00:24:04.18] JULIEN: Yep.
[00:24:05.20] PATRICK: I don’t think that’s necessarily so bad. I mean, I think it could have been far worse than once, but I’ll be apt [00:24:12.07] to say that I go angry that I failed, that I went back and I aced it the second time around.
[00:24:16.23] JULIEN: [laughter] Okay, and so does it mean that you’ll study like very intensively before the exam? Is that how you’ll pass?
[00:24:27.21] PATRICK: Sometimes. Some semesters I’ve been on par with the other students all the way through and sometimes the month before the exam, I will sit down and I will go through all the textbooks and all the extra material from beginning to end and really go through thoroughly to make sure I’m as well prepared as possible.
[00:24:51.06] JULIEN: And so, don’t you think sometimes that how well you will do if you didn’t have to run a business?
[00:24:58.08] PATRICK: That has entered my mind several times. [laughter] I have no doubt that I could probably be even higher in my class if I didn’t run my business but when I say that I also remind myself that grades are just not everything.
[00:25:17.18] JULIEN: Mmhmm.
[00:25:18.29] PATRICK: And to me personally there’s nothing else I would rather do than run my own startup and run my own business and making it grow into a big company and if that means that I have to compromise on getting straight A’s all the way through, then that’s what I’ll do because I want this to succeed no matter what.
[00:25:45.08] JULIEN: So, you had to learn quickly at university. How do you learn and what do you recommend? Like, do you read books, podcasts, blogs? How do you do it?
[00:25:58.26] PATRICK: A little bit of everything. You know, doing my studies and my own business is the equivalent to two full time jobs and private life comes on top of that. So, you know it’s precious whenever you actually have time to do anything. I do read books. That is mainly in terms of when the business needs something very specific and I need to master it in a few days.
[00:26:27.21] JULIEN: Do you have a couple of examples?
[00:26:30.09] PATRICK: Well, a lot of economics books. A lot of law books. I mean, it’s a lot of very boring specific books. I think the book that has brought me most is actually, you’re probably going to be a little bit surprised, it’s Alex Ferguson’s autobiography. The former Manchester United manager.
[00:26:56.18] JULIEN: Oh, okay.
[00:26:58.24] PATRICK: And, there’s probably a few soccer fans out there
[00:27:02.11] JULIEN: Oh yeah. [laughter]
[00:27:02.06] PATRICK: And someone shaking their heads going, I don’t know what he’s talking about but I think that put a lot of things into perspective for me because he has been the boss for a very large business and I think what appealed to me about his particular way of doing things was that he could show every single week through games that what he was doing was right.
[00:27:29.25] JULIEN: Yeah, that’s an advantage, yeah.
[00:27:31.19] PATRICK: And I think therefore you know, like sports or not, I think it’s a very great way to learn very quickly what it takes to succeed on a managerial and leadership level. To you know, push your business forward. Not being a massive soccer fan myself, I think that still made a very big impression on me to read that book.
[00:28:00.16] JULIEN: Oh, that’s yeah, that’s good. It’s really different, you know? Sometimes with always the same books being mentioned, we’ve never had that one mentioned.
[00:28:07.19] PATRICK: No, and that was also my thought, you know, I have so many books, you know, I read more for my business almost than I do for my studies and I think it’s important to come out of your comfort zone also in what you read and sometimes you know, what you end up reading will surprise you positively.
[00:28:30.27] JULIEN: Yeah, that’s a very good one, reading outside your comfort zone. And do you read also blogs or do you listen to podcasts?
[00:28:42.00] PATRICK: I do. The podcasts, like the books, it’s sort of divided up into two. I have one I love, it’s called the advanced selling podcast.
[00:28:56.19] JULIEN: Ooo, yep.
[00:28:57.11] PATRICK: Yeah. I mean, selling is the basis for all business no matter what background you have.
[00:29:04.05] JULIEN: That’s right.
[00:29:05.17] PATRICK: If you can’t sell it, you can’t keep doing what you love, so.
[00:29:09.00] JULIEN: [laughter] That’s right. There’s no business if there’s no sales.
[00:29:13.02] PATRICK: Exactly. Exactly, right? And more than just creating profits for yourself, money is really the proof that what you’re doing is right.
[00:29:22.13] JULIEN: And your is pretty tough because you’re a B2B business and you know, there’s no small contracts. It’s everything’s got to be big.
[00:29:31.07] PATRICK: Everything’s got to be big and I think you know, one of the things in that sense and one of the reasons why I started listening to that podcast was because I needed to learn the patience of being able to close large contracts. It is not going in, having a meeting and coming out on the other side with a deal. It takes months and months.
[00:29:54.04] JULIEN: Yep. It can be frustrating. Long sale cycles can be very frustrating.
[00:29:58.19] PATRICK: Yeah. Again, it’s something that only comes with experience and I think as we get more of it, obviously it will get easier but for everyone out there starting their own business, patience, patience, patience.
[00:30:15.10] JULIEN: No, but it’s good that you mentioned the podcast because selling is definitely one skill that you do not learn at university. Even in the Business faculty, we don’t learn sales. So, mentioning a podcast is a good one.
[00:30:30.13] PATRICK: Yeah, and you don’t learn it but once you start getting your mind into what selling actually is, at least I have started realising that there I can practice more or less anywhere.
[00:30:44.08] JULIEN: [laughter] Yeah, that’s right.
[00:30:46.18] PATRICK: So, even presenting in front of my entire class now has become a way of practising pitching and selling myself to be able to make sure that the communication I’m trying to get across comes across effectively.
[00:31:05.27] JULIEN: That’s right. Like, persuasion, influence, it’s all important.
[00:31:09.21] PATRICK: It’s all important. And I think you also mentioned blogs. I have one, again having mentioned experience, this is probably one of the ones where everyone is going to go, yeah of course, but Richard Branson on virgin.com has quite an amazing blog that I like because he’s very much focused on his own person and his own experiences, rather than a more business, purely business orientated person. He has his own way of doing things and I like that.
[00:31:50.19] JULIEN: Yep. Yep. Definitely. I didn’t know he had a blog there. That makes sense actually but…
[00:31:55.07] PATRICK: Oh yeah, he’s trying to spread the word as much as possible but I love it because he had you know a learning disability as a young man and —
[00:32:10.07] JULIEN: He’s dyslexic isn’t he?
[00:32:12.08] PATRICK: Yep. Exactly, and you know, I think a lot of people can relate to the adversity and it definitely hit a chord with me, so the fact that he does that now and he’s trying to spread some of his experience, I find is absolutely great.
[00:32:32.15] JULIEN: Nah, he’s a great example because you’re right, I mean, he’s the example that is a lot of entrepreneurs or young people out there that have personal challenges and that’s, you know, that have to beat that first before getting into the market.
[00:32:45.26] PATRICK: Yeah, exactly, and I think one of the things that made me an instant fan of him was him talking about a meeting with his CFO and not understanding what his CFO was telling him.
[00:33:04.25] JULIEN: [laughter] Yep.
[00:33:06.04] PATRICK: And having to ask his CFO to please dumb it down for him.
[00:33:10.17] JULIEN: Yep.
[00:33:11.11] PATRICK: And realising you know that is completely okay. I mean, there’s no reason not to ask the important question of what is it you’re talking about if you don’t understand.
[00:33:22.28] JULIEN: That’s good. It takes a, well I think, yeah, if you’re in corporate you try to hide those but if you run through, you know if you set up your own businesses, you’ve had time to learn that you have to ask the questions.
[00:33:38.24] PATRICK: Exactly. Yep, yep, yep. I think that’s very true.
[00:33:43.23] JULIEN: What about yourself? Where do you get support? Do you have mentors? You talked about mentors earlier. Any support in the community? In your personal life?
[00:33:55.06] PATRICK: Yeah. All of the above. [laughter]
[00:33:58.08] JULIEN: Oh, good.
[00:33:59.23] PATRICK: Yeah, we’ve been out pitching so many times and we have failed spectacularly and we had a clear agreement from the beginning that we would sort of pick out the ones we found criticised us the most, but constructively.
[00:34:23.05] JULIEN: Ahh, okay.
[00:34:25.03] PATRICK: So, I would go up to a person who has just taken our entire business case and absolutely ripped it apart and start engaging with that person about what is it specifically they’re thinking about when they’re saying that we won’t be able to make money on this part of the market etc. etc. And from that we’ve had some amazing relationships build up with some very competent specialists and very competent business people who now help us.
[00:35:03.16] JULIEN: That’s a really good strategy. Where and how did you make those pitches? It wasn’t just at uni was it?
[00:35:10.15] PATRICK: No, no. There are many incubator environments, there are many startup competitions. I’m assuming for Australia right now but at least all over Europe we get invited to so many now because we’ve sort of become a known brand within the startup community.
[00:35:33.05] JULIEN: Mmm., that’s good, yeah.
[00:35:35.13] PATRICK: So we get more invites than we can keep up with but googling —
[00:35:42.02] JULIEN: At the beginning you went and knocked at the doors of the incubators and tried to do the pitching and …
[00:35:47.03] PATRICK: For sure.
[00:35:48.09] JULIEN: Okay, good.
[00:35:48.28] PATRICK: Nothing comes on it’s own, so getting out there, making those phone calls, writing those emails, going I want to test out my pitch and my business case as much as possible.
[00:36:01.09] JULIEN: Yeah, and picking out the one that give you the most constructive feedback as a potential mentor, that’s pretty awesome.
[00:36:08.15] PATRICK: Yeah, yeah and also you know, with that also comes sometimes realising that you have made mistakes and some things are wrong and sometimes do need to be changed and I once one step becomes a natural part of your business, you start developing the business into what it finally look like when you have that success.
[00:36:34.13] JULIEN: Yep and did you get any support from your university?
[00:36:39.29] PATRICK: Yes and no. [laughter] So, in our country right now we have had a university reform that is trying to push out students quicker and quicker. Meaning that —
[00:36:52.25] JULIEN: Okay.
[00:36:54.03] PATRICK: Yeah, a lot of these support you could previously have through the official university channels and being able to juggle around some classes and some exams and sometimes taking a little extra time is just gone and that’s —
[00:37:12.09] JULIEN: Ooo.
[00:37:13.08] PATRICK: Been mandated by law.
[00:37:15.01] JULIEN: Okay.
[00:37:16.02] PATRICK: So, on an overall level I don’t think there’s much positively happening on our end in terms of the official university policy but when that is said, there are individuals within the university environment who have helped us with specific tasks or put us in contact with the right professors who are also willing to help us and that sort of stuff.
[00:37:47.11] JULIEN: Do you want to give an example of what type of professor helped you for what?
[00:37:51.23] PATRICK: Yeah, sure. For some of the technical problems we had, suddenly there was an antenna that just didn’t work because the signal wasn’t strong enough and we got a lot of feedback from a professional who came in and looked at our setup and gave some feedback and put us in the right direction to be able to change it. Or IP [00:38:23.05] so, looking at patents and trademarks and all these sort of things.
[00:38:30.27] JULIEN: Especially important for you, that’s super important.
[00:38:33.14] PATRICK: Exactly, and you know, even though I study law and I have three engineers with me, it’s impossible to think that you can be a specialist within everything.
[00:38:43.02] JULIEN: Oh yeah. No, no. Exactly. Definitely.
[00:38:45.06] PATRICK: You have to be a jack of all trades and the rest you do have to get some feedback on.
[00:38:50.19] JULIEN: Experts, yeah. Definitely, and you did mention that you went to every incubator and every competition. Recently you did a big competition, can you tell us a bit more about it?
[00:39:02.18] PATRICK: I’m assuming you’re referring to the university world cup. yeah? [laughter]
[00:39:07.05] JULIEN: Yes. [laughter]
[00:39:08.23] PATRICK: Yeah, that was quite an experience. An entire room filled up with people. A lot of important people. It had been broadcast all over the world. My business partner, Casper Holive [00:39:24.10] up on stage pitching in front of so many people and doing a really good job I have to say. It was sort of, we’ve done it before but it was still a very large event compared to what we’ve done before.
[00:39:42.14] JULIEN: Mmm.
[00:39:43.14] PATRICK: And an absolutely great, great competition. Really well managed. I have to say, so that was an incredible experience trying to be at a world cup for start ups.
[00:39:56.18] JULIEN: And, how was it to talk with student entrepreneurs from around the world? Because everyone was from a different country, right?
[00:40:04.14] PATRICK: Yeah. Tried to get as much feedback from as many people around the world because people have different not just business backgrounds but also cultural backgrounds and that brings so much to a business like ours because people approach things in a different way and so I am in correspondence with several people I met at the event and will probably continue to do so and maybe even go visit some of them.
[00:40:36.28] JULIEN: Mmm.
[00:40:38.05] PATRICK: Because again —
[00:40:40.04] JULIEN: Yeah, go for it.
[00:40:41.12] PATRICK: Because again, you know when they say something that is not necessarily obvious to me, it’s also a form of constructive criticism for what I’m doing because it means that I haven’t looked at it the way I probably should have.
[00:40:57.29] JULIEN: And, what did you think of the other businesses? Because it was pretty a varied mix of diverse… You had software, hardware, apps I guess.
[00:41:09.21] PATRICK: Yeah, for sure. I think it’s always hard to sort of compare, obviously being a competition they had to compare but it’s hard to compare so diverse and different businesses that were present there. I think it’s also, it’s inspiring to see so many different businesses because it shows that business is not one thing, you know, it’s from software to hardware and from green tech to medical. It’s all business but it all requires a different approach. It requires a different way of creating a product and it requires a different kind of team. So, having that all under one roof really puts it into perspective for me and makes me think a lot and like beforehand, it creates some very interesting conversations with different people from around the world that have created something so vastly different from us.
[00:42:11.00] JULIEN: Yeah, that’s a good one, and if before, I mean, did you know a lot of student entrepreneurs and then you came to realise in that competition that there was a lot more student entrepreneurs than you thought?
[00:42:25.03] PATRICK: I think it was more that case of you, they must have been out there but you never sort of realised that they were until you met them all. [laughter] Because of course they are, of course they are, but having never been confronted with them I just don’t think it was that obvious.
[00:42:46.06] JULIEN: And you’ve been to lots of incubators. You’ve been to lots of competitions and obviously you were on campus, I mean you know, but it’s still hard to find them?
[00:42:57.06] PATRICK: It can be. It can be. Like I said, my best advice to anyone out there and the way we did it was you know, simply go on Google and once you have that one starting point you usually start getting pitched a lot more opportunities and then when you get pitched these opportunities at your starting point, it’s just out grabbing them and running with them because there is a lot of network in those environments as well.
[00:43:28.28] JULIEN: That’s right. Exactly.
[00:43:30.23] PATRICK: They will pitch each other’s projects, so. [laughter]
[00:43:33.25] JULIEN: Exactly. No, it’s all about that network and yeah, no it’s fantastic. Alright, so you did mention that you failed a lot of times? Is there like a big one that you want to share with us?
[00:43:48.18] PATRICK: Yeah. I sort of just got the chills just thinking about it just now. [laughter] Yeah, no, I think the one that really stands out was a presentation I had to do in front of 200 people. Including some of the very large Silicon Valley investors and —
[00:44:16.12] JULIEN: So, a great opportunity then.
[00:44:19.02] PATRICK: Great opportunity. Danish politicians from Parliament and the like. A lot of Danish high society business people and I was alone at this event because we were at another event across the country.
[00:44:39.17] JULIEN: At the same time?
[00:44:40.26] PATRICK: At the same time, and this is something that we’ve had to get used to quickly, that there’s so much to do. If we have to go these events and these business, that we have to sort of divide out the tasks and do it on our own, but on this particular occasion, let’s say it was less than the perfect pitch. [laughter] I very much froze up on stage —
[00:45:09.11] JULIEN: And it was at your first one, right?
[00:45:11.05] PATRICK: No, no and I’ve even won pitching competitions before.
[00:45:15.02] JULIEN: Okay.
[00:45:16.15] PATRICK: By no means am I a beginner at this but sometimes you know, the brain does what it wants to and on this occasion it just froze up and I got ridiculed big time.
[00:45:35.10] JULIEN: Ouch.
[00:45:37.07] PATRICK: It didn’t help that the feedback we got on the pitch on stage was from a large Danish investor who has money invested in the company who targets a similar market but with a different product.
[00:45:52.22] JULIEN: Oh no, with a different product? Ahh.
[00:45:56.00] PATRICK: So, you know, also technology wise but at the same time you know, she could see us as a [laughter] competitor, so.
[00:46:05.19] JULIEN: That’s right.
[00:46:06.27] PATRICK: In front a very large crowd of very important and very experienced people I very much got put in my place.
[00:46:15.13] JULIEN: Ouch. Okay. [laughter]
[00:46:17.03] PATRICK: Yeah, and I think that sort of, you know, leading back to your question about where do you get the support? I think I had a very long, long and intense hug from my girlfriend that night.
[00:46:28.16] JULIEN: Ahh.
[00:46:30.09] PATRICK: Yeah. You know, thats —
[00:46:32.02]JULIEN: She understood.
[00:46:33.05] PATRICK: She understood, I think she’s been there a few times.
[00:46:36.03] JULIEN: Okay.
[00:46:37.15] PATRICK: So, you know, it’s important for sometimes to get that sympathy as well when it doesn’t go that way.
[00:46:46.02] JULIEN: What do you think you lost and what do you think you gained from it?
[00:46:49.27] PATRICK: Um.
[00:46:52.17] JULIEN: Do you think you lost investors or any opportunity?
[00:46:57.17] PATRICK: Maybe some network opportunity, which doesn’t worry me too much. In terms of investment, you know, that doesn’t worry me so much because at the end of the day, the business case has to carry the investment that you get in regardless, and if the business case is there I think any investor worth their salt will spend the extra time to figure out if it was just a bad pitch or not.
[00:47:25.12] JULIEN: Mmm.
[00:47:27.08] PATRICK: So, you know, the main thing is to remember that an investor can get just as much out of investing as you get from the investment and it’s just not a holy grail as many people put it up to be, but it’s a necessity of business. So, finding the right match is the main thing and I don’t think it hurt us.
[00:47:47.27] JULIEN: Okay, good.
[00:47:49.02] PATRICK: In that way.
[00:47:50.01] JULIEN: Yeah, okay that’s a good thing. Alright, let’s ask you a new question. What do you think university should do to support people like you? Like, especially in your country now, you’re saying that the university are getting tighter in terms of times and leniencies they can give you, so what they could do to help student entrepreneurs?
[00:48:12.18] PATRICK: I think the official channels should put more emphasis on official programs. I know the university I go to have started an environment where startups can go and get some open office space and get some feedback..
[00:48:33.11] JULIEN: Oh okay, that’s good.
[00:48:34.24] PATRICK: It’s good. I take my hat off for those kind of projects and I think they just need to be expanded even more to help with the more basic services of running a company. You know, be it administration or otherwise. You know, I think there’s a lot of emphasis on helping developing the idea but I think that the thing that shocked me the most when it came to developing my business was how much time is spent on just administration and keeping the engine room running, rather than developing it, and I think that’s really forgotten sometimes, so I think —
[00:49:15.01] JULIEN: Yeah, so you think they could teach like a pros, like a best processes and practice for running a business efficiently?
[00:49:22.08] PATRICK: Absolutely. If there is an accountancy professor in the vicinity, you know, have a day a month where he comes by and gives that feedback he can on how to do that aspect or if there’s a law professor you know, that has some spare time once in awhile, you know, help people set up a corporate structure etc. etc. It’s only —
[00:49:46.07] JULIEN: Yeah, yeah. Exactly.
[00:49:48.29] PATRICK: You know, it’s [crosstalk] [00:49:49.11] to business.
[00:49:50.21] JULIEN: Yeah especially for you know, like for engineers, engineering students who would never learn anything about how to register a business for instance. This kind of things, or never got accounting courses.
[00:50:04.11] PATRICK: Exactly. Exactly, and this will be something that they will carry on for ever because you know, as a business expands, even across borders, you know, laws and rules change but if you have that basis you’re able to put into context and so you will carry these lessons with you for life.
[00:50:26.08] JULIEN: Yeah. But, what you’re saying about your university having some [00:50:30.02] space, it’s good because we’re hearing that from more and more universities now, so it’s you know, it’s coming the support for student entrepreneur is coming slowly but it is coming, like it’s you know, a few years back we didn’t have anything really.
[00:50:48.08] PATRICK: Yeah, absolutely true. Absolutely true, and I think that it will become more and more of a priority as more and more people start going to university and not everyone can get a doctorate.
[00:51:02.25] JULIEN: Yeah.
[00:51:04.07] PATRICK: You know, and there are only so many businesses, I think that was one of the lessons from the 2008 crash, that you know sometimes, there just aren’t any jobs either. [laughter]
[00:51:17.19] JULIEN: That’s right, you have to create it.
[00:51:19.06] PATRICK: You have to create it. I think that’s all positive and I think that needs to, even though we get into maybe better financial times, it’s not a lesson we are allowed to forget. We need to have more emphasis on creating business, for sure.
[00:51:33.21] JULIEN: That’s fantastic. Alright, so we’re getting to the end of the interview. Is there any final advice that you want to share with the audience?
[00:51:45.20] PATRICK: Hmm. Well, get out there, get out there. Be as open to criticism on your business case because at the end of the day, the business case is what has to carry your business and you know, even though it’s hard, get used to getting those defeats and again, create a method in which you can make sure that it becomes constructive for you business because there are many successes but there are many, many, many failures and letting them get you down just does nothing good, so.
[00:52:32.23] JULIEN: Excellent. Thanks. Yeah, I like the building a system after the, to learn from the defeats because if you just get used to the defeats but you don’t do anything about it [laughter] then that’s a problem.
[00:52:42.15] PATRICK: Yeah for sure and creating a system about is a good way to make it you know less intrusive in your daily work, so you don’t dwell on it as much because it’s just part of the standard procedure.
[00:53:01.00] JULIEN: Yeah, that’s a hard one, not to dwell on it.
[00:53:03.12] PATRICK: It is. It is, and it’s taken a long time but it’s something that can be done.
[00:53:08.09] JULIEN: Yep.
[00:53:09.03] PATRICK: For sure.
[00:53:09.17] JULIEN: Fantastic. Thank you so much for your advice. Thank you so much for giving a bit of your time and we hope all the best for your business and we’ll keep posted.
[00:53:23.10] PATRICK: Thank you very much thank you very much for having me.
[00:53:25.26] Woman: If you enjoyed the episide like the Studentpreneur’s page on facebook.com/thestudentpreneurpodcast. See you next Wednesday for a new episode. Meanwhile, keep changing the mindset.